A Dark Day Is Coming for Buffalo. It Can’t Wait.

When the sky above Buffalo briefly goes dark on the afternoon of April 8, the city will transcend its dreary place in the public consciousness — measured as it so often is by snowstorms and Super Bowl shortcomings — if only for about three minutes.

After that, it’s up to Buffalo to make the most of its moment in the sun (or should that be: out of the sun?), when it will be met with an estimated one million eclipse tourists. Owing to the city’s excellent vantage for witnessing a rare total eclipse, nearly every room in every hotel in the region is booked, the campgrounds are almost full and good luck finding a rental car anywhere along the Erie Canal.

“For a couple of minutes the whole world will be thinking about Buffalo,” said Dave Horesh, the co-founder of Oxford Pennant, a local felt flag factory. Mr. Horesh ran a nationwide sweepstakes called “The Best Seat in the Universe,” and is flying the winner to Buffalo to watch the eclipse from a love seat on the lawn of a former mental institution now converted into a boutique hotel. “I was thinking: All this city has ever been known for is bad sports teams, snow and chicken wings,” he said. “This is an opportunity.”

Buffalo’s Erie County and nearby Niagara County lie in what astronomers call “the zone of totality,” a band stretching from Dallas to Montreal in which the moon will fully block out the sun. Officials in the region first realized that the eclipse would be a big deal seven years ago — that’s when, in 2017, the area’s tourism agency received its first group tour booking: 56 people in a bus from Pennsylvania, according to Patrick Kaler, the president and chief executive of Visit Buffalo Niagara.

Officials have spent the past year getting ready in earnest, poring over white papers on how comparable cities have handled past eclipses, Mr. Kaler said. Regular meetings brought together emergency medical workers, astronomers and even an ophthalmologist to answer anxious questions about eyeballs and eclipses.

The visitors expected in Buffalo could nearly double the area’s population, jam traffic and overload cellphone signal capacity. To mitigate the concerns, the region has collaborated with cellphone companies to bring in mobile units to boost signals, and will be staging ambulance and emergency crews across the area to better reach people in need, according to Mark C. Poloncarz, the Erie County executive.

To limit overcrowding, the official messaging to locals has been similar to what they hear during blizzard season: Stay put. “We are just telling people there is no bad vantage point,” Mr. Poloncarz said, adding that he most likely will be watching from his own telescope. “Just stay at home,” he said.

Now, just weeks from the big day, Buffalo is ready to party: There are at least 50 events open to the public, according to Visit Buffalo Niagara, from lectures by a NASA expert to a viewing party at Highmark Stadium, where the Bills play. There is also an eclipse-themed crafting party, something billed as a solar eclipse silent disco and a bonfire in an art park where you are encouraged to burn your eclipse-themed poetry. Across the region, schoolchildren have the day off.

The terrestrial chaos will be rivaled by the celestial, according to Kay Leach, a Buffalo-based tarot reader and spiritual adviser who has been prescribing eclipse-day protection rituals for anxious clients. “The overall energy is it feels like it’s going to be a day of classic Buffalo day drinking,” said Ms. Leach, whose business is called I Am Magick. “That concerns me a little bit because of the intensity of the solar eclipse, the spiritual side.” (Carrying black tourmaline and shungite stones on eclipse day can help, she suggested.)

The total eclipse will occur at 3:18 on the afternoon of April 8. At 4 p.m., Dr. Andrew L. Reynolds, an ophthalmologist and clinical associate professor at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, will open his clinic at the Ross Eye Institute and keep it open until long after the sun sets to address any injuries.

“We all know you shouldn’t look directly at the sun,” Dr. Reynolds said, “and — bam! — you have this sudden window where people are tempted to look.”

A dark shadow hanging over the shadow over the sun is the fact that in this pocket of western New York, it is just as likely to be overcast on April 8 as it is to be sunny, according to meteorologists. The last total eclipse in these parts was on Jan. 24, 1925 — a cloudy day.

Whether the conjunction of the sun and moon is visible or not, all those visitors will have to eat. Drew Cerza, the founder and self-proclaimed “wing king” of the National Buffalo Wing Festival, is capitalizing on the eclipse with a themed chicken wing — honey mustard for the sun, “eclipsed” by barbecue sauce — available at pop-up locations around town.

(To go with the wings: Big Ditch Brewing Company, in partnership with the Buffalo Museum of Science, is releasing a limited edition black IPA, complimentary eclipse glasses included with every six-pack.)

Anchor Bar, which lays claim to inventing the world’s first Buffalo wing in 1964, will have twice the number of chicken wings — 28,000 — ready to go at its flagship location as it does on an average weekend, and will stir up 50 gallons of medium-spicy sauce per day, said Mark Dempsey, the president of the Anchor Bar Franchise Company.

At its competitor, Duff’s Famous Wings, Greg Duell, an executive at the Duff’s Franchise Group and the owner of the Duff’s at Eastern Hills Mall, said he planned to close the kitchen for about three minutes so the staff could take in the eclipse. Then it’s back to the fryers to meet the flood of orders.

“The total eclipse, which is a neat experience, is only three minutes long,” Mr. Duell said. “And then it’s like, ‘OK, you guys want to go get some wings?’”

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